GIFable Memories

I was gone for a while.  I can’t say where I went.  I can’t say for how long I was gone.  I can only say that there was no Internet.  Luckily I had files on my computer, so I was able to make some animated GIFs.  It’s important to keep the mind busy.

I recommend following this handy tutorial for making an animated GIF with MPEG Streamclip.  It’s very important to save this page to your computer in case you are unable to communicate with the outside world.  Pro tips.

Oscilloscope from "The Prisoner" (episode 1)

Oscilloscope from “The Prisoner” (episode 1)

No trust.

No trust.

Subtle no6 -- this didn't turn out quite like I expected, but oh well.

Subtle no6 — this didn’t turn out quite like I expected, but oh well.


It’s hard to write a witty title when you know nothing about The Prisoner

Summer vacation is almost here, and I’ve got plans.  Big plans.  Some of those plans involve working a little bit–tending to stuff in the library and co-teaching some Scratch/Makey Makey camps with Carolyn.  A lot of those plans include kicking around the city with my 5-year-old son.

But I also need some DS106 in my life.  My GIMP/PhotoShop skills are rusty, and I still have that typography poster to finish.

Turns out another season of DS106 is on the horizon.  This time it’s centered around The Prisoner (not this Prisoner).  I haven’t seen or heard of either Prisoner.

It looks like a place called The Village figures prominently in the show.  It’s funny, but a place called The Village here in Richmond figured prominently in my life when I moved to RVA in 2006.  The Village was one of my favorite places to visit before I became a responsible adult in 2009.  It was full of artists and writers and riff raff and misfits.  The Vesuvio of the east, perhaps?  Sometimes there are nostalgic conversations about the Richmond of the 80s and 90s on the Richmond Counterculture Facebook page.

the old Village

The Old Village (before my time). The Village now lives at 1001 W. Grace St. (across the street from the original location).

I spent a lot of time on Grace Street going to see shows at the Nanci Raygun (which became the Bagel Czar which became Strange Matter).  Many conversations were had in the booths of The Village before and after shows and on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

So here’s to a summer of DS106.  #4life.

The VIllage

The Village.  Animated.

Now the tutorial for anyone who may need it:

1.  I found a picture of The Village through a Google image search.  It was a static image of course.

2.  In order to animate it in some way, I figured I needed some contrast, so I opened the image in GIMP and painted the neon sign a darker red so that it would resemble a neon sign turned off.

Painting the neon Village sign

Painting the neon Village sign

The sign is dimmed

The sign is dimmed

3.  I then found this nice tutorial that explained how to turn .jpgs into an animated GIF in PhotoShop, because as I previously stated, my PhotoShop/GIMP skills are rusty.

4.  Then I had the wonderful GIF posted three photos above that closely matched what I was imagining.

It’s nice when it turns out that way.

* Also, I’m rereading this post the next day, and it sounds totally incoherent.  That’s because I was writing it while watching the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie with my son, which means there was a lot of, “Hey mom, look at this!” followed by somersaults on the sofa and kicks in the air.

A #networkedcourse

The summer of 2012 was transformational.  The summer Olympics were held in London, England.  The US witnessed one of the hottest summers on record.  The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars.  Carley Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was the official summer anthem.  And campers everywhere flocked to Camp Magic Macguffin for a summer of hijinx, mystery, and animated GIFs.

DS106 was my first exposure to a networked course.  It was a class that demanded participation in the community through a host of creative assignments, tweeting, blogging, reading/comments on the blogs of others, and animated GIFs, animated GIFs, animated GIFs!

Dr. Amy Nelson lead a workshop called Networking Your Hybrid Humanities Course on the last day of AltFest.  Several of Dr. Nelson’s classes are hybrid classes.  Students meet face-to-face, but they also spend time analyzing and interacting with primary sources.  The syllabus for the fall 2014 Russian History course emphasizes the role of the student in defining the class….


“Much  of  this  work  will  take  place  in  a  networked  learning  environment,  which  will  use blogging,  Twitter,  and  other  learning
technologies  to  construct,  elaborate  and  refine  the  contours  and content  of  the  course.”


And the goals for blogging…


The  blogging assignments  are  intended  to  leverage  the  freely accessible  resources  of  the World  Wide  Web as well as the digitized collections  of  the  Virginia  Tech  libraries  in  order  to:
o Develop  your  skills  in  historical  analysis
o Develop  your  skills  identifying,  using  and  citing  historical  sources
o Develop  understanding  of  the  key  developments  and  dynamics  of  Soviet History


Nelson commented that she worried students would have nothing to say in the classroom if they took their took their discussions online via blog posts and comments.  However, that wasn’t the case.  Classroom discussions were so rich that one student wished they had notes of the dialogue taking place.  Thanks to Google Docs and student volunteers, archived class notes were born.
The comments on students’ blogs feed into the class mother blog so conversations are easily followed.  Students and readers don’t have to go to each individual blog to see what’s discussed.
Screenshot of comments on the mother blog

Screenshot of comments on the mother blog

Sometimes a class can have over 30 students, which means over 30 blogs, which means over 30 posts to read and leave comments.  Nelson has an editorial board in place to help with comments.  This team also selects the posts that appear in the coveted Editor’s Choice spot.  Students on the editorial board also contribute to the body of knowledge the class creates over the semester.  You can read a couple of examples here and here

The Editor's Choice slider

The Editor’s Choice slider

Selections for the slider are posted (in a perfect world) every Wednesday during a semester.  Nelson said she notices an uptick in traffic on Wednesday afternoons.  Students check out the mother blog to see what posts have been chosen for the week.

Dr. Nelson builds courses that are engaging and participatory.  She and her students leverage the best the web has to offer.  They make use of open educational resources.  They share their analysis and thinking in the open through their blogs and comments.

You can find links to student blogs, blog post guidelines, mother blogs, archived class notes, and more on this Google Doc.

I’ve been away from #DS106 too long

An explanation for the following will come.

Maybe even tomorrow.

But right now, this is what I have in response to Talky Tina’s demands.  It’s a half-assed animated GIF.

Groom GIF

Groom GIF

The strobe effect IS NOT INTENTIONAL.  I’ve managed to forget how to make a GIF.  Actually, I know how to do a GIF, I’ve forgotten how to add other images to a GIF.

That’s something to look into tomorrow.  Right now my husband is patiently waiting for us to watch a movie together as it’s date night and all.

Talky Tina, I hope this will do for now.  Goal for the week:  brush up on GIMP/PhotoShop and GIF like a boss.

The film is Red River in case you were wondering.


Things I’ve made. People I’ve met: a mid-summer summary

Constructing Modern Knowledge is underway, and this tweet from @DesignMakeTeach (or Josh) pretty much sums up my current emotional state.

Like DS106, my experiences at Constructing Modern Knowledge have influenced the way I approach many facets of my life from what I do in a school and library to how I parent my son.  The the DS106 community, I feel connected to many of the passionate and creative people I met in Manchester, New Hampshire last summer.

One day I’ll go back to CMK, but this summer I’m trying my best to recreate the CMK spirit in my own town.

I’ve been exploring e-textiles by mixing the old (embroidery) with the new (the e-textiles).

The 'wrong' side of the embroidery project

The ‘wrong’ side of the embroidery projec

Working circuit and an unfinished embroidery project.

Working circuit and an unfinished embroidery project.

I’ve been trying my hand at entry-level robotics by playing with the Finch and Snap! with hopes of using the Finch as a way to really learn Python.  Though the content seems attainable and Dr. Chuck is personable, the Coursera model isn’t for me.

My helper

My helper

I’m also playing around with the Mousebot, which is not less about robotics or even electronics and more about soldering practice for me.

There's lots of soldering to be done.

There’s lots of soldering to be done.

Bad soldering

Bad soldering

The kitchen is a good place for soldering as the stove vent sucks up gross solder fumes.

The kitchen is a good place for soldering as the stove vent sucks up gross solder fumes.

I don’t know if the Mousebot works yet, because I am still soldering.  It’s sometimes difficult to complete a project in a timely manner when one only has a couple of hours a few nights a week to work on it (and the other things that vie for my attention).

God, I really hope that Mousebot works.

Back in January, I mentioned my hopes of doing a local version of CMK during a #makered chat.  Andrew said (and I paraphrase, because I can’t find the twitter thread) that it only counts if one doesn’t work alone in a basement.  That resonated with me, and I’m trying to get out to work with other people.  Or at least forge relationships that will eventually lead to my working with other talented, passionate, and curious folks.

I loaded up my son and a bunch of tools and toys in a rental car and headed to Roanoke for a “Petting Zoo Times Two” program at their public library.  Outside were ducks, alpacas, goats, rabbits, etc.  Inside were robots, a 3D printer, a Makey Makey, e-textiles, and LED throwies sans magnets.

LED throwies sans magnets

LED throwies sans magnets

Here’s what you should know:  kids will go nuts over LEDs and coin batteries even if there are no magnets and throwing involved.  One saavy, young attendee made several LED doodads toward the end of the night and said he would sell them for $12.  I don’t think he was successful, but I admire the entrepreneurial spirit.

I also reupped my membership at Hack.RVA, where there is a vast library… in the bathroom.  Because I have a stunted sense of humor, I adore that.

The library should always be in the library.

I feel mildly weird about posting a picture of a bathroom on the blog, but oh well.

I also adore the abundance of expertise that exists with other members and their willingness to share.  RVA Maker Guild also hosts many events at Hack.RVA.  Some of the events are even child friendly.

The next generation of hackers/makers?  Hope so.

The next generation of hackers/makers? Hope so.

There are more connections to be made in Richmond.  A Coder Dojo has recently started up at the public library.  Rebecca Dovi is hoping to open computer science opportunities up to more kids in the area with CodeVA.  The list really does continue.

But this is enough writing for now.  I have to get back to that Mousebot and that Finch and the notebook hacking and another embroidery/Lilypad project that I’m kicking around that involves the Sauer’s sign here in Richmond.

photo credit: Matt Carman via photopin cc

photo credit: Matt Carman via photopin cc

Where is Hatchet Jack?: a project incomplete (animated GIF challenge #5)

Where are you Hatchet Jack?

Where are you Hatchet Jack?

It’s likely that Hatchet Jack isn’t missing at all.  Maybe he’s been around.  Or maybe not.  Maybe he’s still sitting along atop the freezing cold peaks of the Rocky Mountains.  Who knows.  I miss a lot of tweets and internet conversations because of other commitments and distractions.  Despite that, it seems like he’s been radio silent.

Here’s my GIF.  I want to add it to a missing persons poster, but I haven’t had time to figure that part out yet.  In my head it’s something like Sean Placchetti’s “dancing Jim all over the world,” but with a missing persons poster…  and Hatchet Jack.

Oh.  I should also say that the Hatchet Jack face is from a photo found on the Google Images.  The frames of the body and hatchet are from the brilliant “Shia LaBeouf Actual Cannibal.”



DS106: it just makes sense

DS106 makes sense.  Running with bulls does not.  But running with bulls is exactly what’s going to be happening near Richmond August 24th.  Fools.

DS106 makes sense.  Bull running does not.

DS106 makes sense. Bull running does not.

I found some archival footage from the bull runs in Pamplona, Spain at  I downloaded that clip and then went to Photoshop, where I went to file >> import >> video frames to layers.  I then selected the file I wanted to import (I changed the file extension to .mov per Alan’s suggestion here).  The video is a few minutes long, and I only needed a couple of seconds so I checked the “selected range only” option and selected the couple of seconds that I needed.

Screen Shot  I grabbed the DS106 logo from and made that a layer.  I made it the head layer and then made it visible on all 39 layers that made up the animated GIF.

Photoshop screen shot

Photoshop screen shot

Next, I created two layers of text: one for the “It just makes sense” and another for “Headless #DS106 . August 26, 2013.”  Initially I had both text boxes at the bottom of the image like this:

But when I went to preview the GIF, “It just makes sense” moved to the top of the frame and nestled itself under DS106.  I have no idea why.

Photoshop screen shot

Photoshop screen shot

I liked it like that, so I left it.

I made the text layers visible in all 39 layers that made up the animated GIF.

But here’s another Photoshop conundrum: If you look at the two pictures above, you’ll notice that layer 38 has the “It just makes sense” snug under “DS106.”  However, layer 39 had the “It just makes sense” text at the bottom of the image like I had originally planned.  I’m not sure why the positioning of “It just makes sense” text changed in 38 layers, but not layer 39.  If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them.  I had to manually move the “It just makes sense” text box in layer 39 so that it matched the other 38 layers.

There we go.  I’m ready for the next challenge.





Watch out for that horse, Jim: GIF challenge #2

How on EARTH did I miss the #DS106 GIF challenge in preparation for headless DS106, which begins August 26th?  I blame my absence from Twitter.  But August is only 3 days in, so it’s easy to join the challenge without feeling overwhelmed.

I’m guessing Talky Tina is responsible for the GIF challenges.  Challenge #2: “Dancing Jim All Over the World” can be found here.  Go ahead.  Click the link.  I’ll wait….

…. It’s funny how Talky Tina and Alan Levine both really like to throw out challenges.  Alan just issued a Daily Create challenge back in July.  So odd…

I was just thinking today how I missed DS106 and how I haven’t blogged lately or made anything lately.  And my thinking about thinking about WordPress rabbit holes isn’t something I want to unpack right now.  The GIF challenge really couldn’t have come at a better time.

Here’s my submission for challenge #2:

Dancin' Jim & the Headless Horseman

Dancin’ Jim & the Headless Horseman

Boy oh boy do I love the Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

I’m pretty sure we watched it every Halloween in elementary school, so there’s lots of youthful nostalgia attached.

I did another Dancin’ Jim assignment back in the spring.  Despite that, I couldn’t remember the steps I took to build the Bava in the Boardroom project, so I spent a lot of time trying to find tutorials that made sense to me.  Bits and pieces of this 12-minute Youtube tutorial was helpful.

I was going to attempt to insert the dancing Jim into a short clip from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, so I downloaded the last several seconds of this Youtube video using Clip Converter:

In the end I opted to use a still from the clip I downloaded.  I opened that still in Photoshop and then opened the dancing Jim GIF.

Photoshop screen shot

Photoshop screen shot

I duplicated the still nine times since there are nine frames in the Jim GIF.

Photoshop screen shot

Photoshop screen shot

I then duplicated a Jim layer for each layer of the headless horseman.  I made sure layers corresponded (layer one of Jim was visible in layer one of the horseman.  Layer two of Jim was visible in layer two of the horseman.  You get the idea).

Photoshop screen shot

Photoshop screen shot

I previewed the GIF, noticed that Jim was dancing way too fast, and changed the duration of each frame to 0.2 seconds.  I then saved the GIF for web and devices and called it a night, because it was late.

Photoshop screen shot

Photoshop screen shot

I don’t remember there being as many steps the first time I tried this assignment, so I feel like I did things the hard/long way.  I really need to work with Photoshop on a daily basis, or else I forget EVERYTHING.

Guess I should assign myself my own daily create challenge.

Summer Songs

If Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” was last summer’s “song of summer,”

this summer’s tune has to be Icona Pop’s “I Love It.”

To honor that, I made this:

The project stems from the DS106 assignment “Character/Genre Song Mashup” (aka Visual Assignment 733).

The theme of the video clips selected:  Er…. they’re from The Twilight Zone (with the exception of a short clip from “Alcohol is Dynamite“)

The song: “I Love It” by Icona Pop.  It’s catchy and you can dance to it.

The tools:  iMovie ’11

What I did:  I haven’t watched all of the assigned Twilight Zone episodes, so I thought back to the ones I have seen and considered the scenes that would kind-of-sort-of fit the song.  Telly Savales falling down the stairs in “Living Doll” was an obvious choice as was footage from “Midnight Sun.”

I downloaded clips from Youtube using clip converter.  I’ve been using this Firefox add-on since Camp Magic Macguffin, and it works well for me.  Though I’m sure most of these converters have the option to download portions of videos, I found that an especially useful feature for this project.

Settings for clip converter

Settings for clip converter

I opted to save my clips as a .mp4, because that’s what I’ve been doing and it seems to work.  I know very little about codecs.  Am I even using the right terminology?  Is a .wmv a codec or is that just a file type?  I should probably look into that….

I converted and saved all of the clips I wanted to work with to my desktop, because that’s the easiest thing for me to do.  I created a new project in iMovie called Twilight Zone.  Next, I imported all of Twilight Zone .mp4 files in a new event that I called DS106zone.

iMovie process

iMovie process

Most of the clips in the DS106zone event were longer than necessary, so I selected the portions of the clips I wanted, and dragged them to the Twilight Zone project.

I don’t have Icona Pop’s “I Love It” in my music library (because I listen to music through Rdio if I listen to music at all), so I converted the Youtube video to MP3 and then imported that file into my iMovie project.  I only used about a minute of the song, because it’s very hard to too time-consuming to find three minutes worth of clips to match with the song.

Once the soundtrack was in place, I moved the video clips around to fit with the lyrics of the song.  I muted the volume in the video tracks by reducing volume to 0%.  This can be done under “audio adjustment” for each clip.

iMovie screen shot

iMovie screen shot

A lot of folks poo-poo iMovie.  It works fine for the video work that I do.  I’m sure it has limitations for the hardcore video editors out there.  The only problem I’ve encountered is when students try to do a group project at school.  It’s impossible (or at least not easy) for students to work asynchronously on a group project without a lot of network account black magic. 

This project’s biggest time suck is gathering and organizing the footage.  I had a vague mental idea–a mental story board, if you will–of what I wanted the project to look like.  That helped with the efficiency of the clip selection, conversion, and editing process.

Christina Hendricks recently tweeted:

This gave me the idea to create and use several frames of Talky Tina floating through space during the closing credits rather than the space ship.  I’ll add that to my “to do” list.

I also need to add this to my blog:

Official Internet Web Badge

Official Internet Web Badge

So honored!





Was Matthew Weiner a Twilight Zone Fan?

I’m fairly confident that the origins of Don Draper started with Martin Sloan from the Twilight Zone’s “Walking Distance” (S1E5)

Martin Sloan from

Martin Sloan from “Walking Distance” (S1E5 of The Twilight Zone)

Martin Sloan is an ad man in New York City.  Don Draper is an ad man in New York City.  Martin Sloan is cracking under the stress and confused about his past (or nostalgic for it at least).  Don Draper is cracking under the stress and confused about his past.

And then there’s Martin Sloan’s allusion to putting it all to an end.

Yesterday I just got in the car and drove.  I had to get out of New York City.  One more board meeting, phone call, report, or problem, and I would’ve jumped right out the window.

Mad Men's falling man

Mad Men’s falling man from opening credits

The falling man from Mad Men’s opening credits is such an iconic image now.  It’s the first thing that popped into my head when Martin Sloan mentioned jumping out the window.  I’m sure that’s the case because of all of the ad man front loading Rod Serling does at the beginning of “Walking Distance.”

Whatever the case may be, I decided to over-analyze the connections I made.  I also decided to count the connection as an audio assignment.  Specifically assignment #1117 although it doesn’t even fit the description really.

But I’m an open participant, and I do what I want!

Here’s a description of the assignment, which was created by Bowties and Skulls.  “The assignment is to find an audio clip that references the Twilight Zone.”

My interpretation of Audio Assignment #1117:  Find an audio clip from the Twilight Zone that references a TV show that didn’t even exist when the Twilight Zone episode aired.”


Submitted for your approval: